The European Court of Human Rights examines the complaint of an underage against ill-treatment in a kindergarten in 2005


26 November 2014

The European Court of Human Rights (the ECHR) has communicated a complaint of an underage from Saint-Petersburg against ill-treatment which he was subjected to in 2005 in the state pre-school educational institution «Kindergarten No.42» (Saint-Petersburg), as well as against the inefficient investigation of these facts at the national level. In the opinion of the representatives of the claimant ill-treatment in the kindergarten resulted in deep psychological trauma, which developed in neurological disorder of medium severity. The name of the child is not quoted due to reasons of personal privacy of the victim who experienced a serious stress. The European Court also decided to classify the claimant’s data.

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It all started in spring of 2005 when the boy’s parents started to notice changes in his behavior. In particular, he started to get nervous and did not want to go to kindergarten. During summer holidays his psychological state considerably improved, and his mood stabilized. However, as soon as he returned to kindergarten in September he grew nervous again and started to be afraid of darkness and noises, refused to go to kindergarten. On 7 November after picking her son from the kindergarten the mother noticed that he had a convulsive tic in the eye area, and there was a bruise on his left temple. The boy complained of headache and neck pain.

One of the kindergarten teachers told the mother that the children were instilled eye drops containing sulfacetamide antibiotic. She claimed that there was an eye infection in the kindergarten and preventive measures had to be taken in order to avoid the spread of the illness. On 8 November 2005 the boy was examined by an eye specialist who noticed a bruise on his temple but did not find any symptoms of eye infection or any other illness. The doctor recommended to consult the neurologist in order to check whether the reason for the nervous tic was neurological. The same day the boy developed a convulsive tic in the mouth area.

On 15 November the boy was examined by a neurologist who established a diagnosis «hyperkinesis» (the condition of overexcitement of nervous system, expressed in different disorders which impact the ability to control one’s movements, which leads to increase of muscle activity and results in excessive or/and inadequate motion behavior. The reason of this condition is primarily psychological). It’s worth noting that up to this day the boy is undergoing a treatment of a psychiatrist and a psychologist which requires a drug therapy.

On 14 November the boy’s mother applied to the local department of consumers’ rights and human welfare protection supervisory authority. She complained against the kindergarten No.42 personnel applying physical force to her son when they instilled eye drops, which resulted in nervous tic.

On 23 and 29 November the woman received two answers from the department of consumers’ rights and human welfare protection supervisory authority and the department for education, where it was said that the facts described in the complaint of the applicant were partly proved true, and the kindergarten governess, two kindergarten teachers and a nurse were subject to disciplinary action.

After the boy was transferred to the other state kindergarten other horrible details became known. The boy told his parents that because he could not fall asleep during the rest-hour he was put on the folding bed in the toilet, the lights were switched out and he was threatened with rats, next time he was made to stand in the next room barefoot with nothing but his pants on with hands up during the whole rest-hour. Sometimes he was punched on his back. Once the teachers taped his mouth with a scotch-tape. The boy started to choke and tried to remove the tape, then the teachers tied his hands up with the tape behind his back. Some kids of his group were also subjected to such types of punishments. All of them were forbidden to tell their parents about it.

On 21 December of the same year the department of education notified the boy’s mother that the governess of the kindergarten was fired, moreover, on 13 March 2006 the same department informed the parents about the conducted internal investigation which established that the kindergarten teachers settled some kids off to sleep outside the bedroom.

On 29 September 2006 the woman applied to the prosecutor office of the Kirovskiy district of Saint-Petersburg. However the criminal case was opened only on 19 January 2009. It is obvious that in three years’ time potential witnesses in the case time for the most part forgot the circumstances of the events and could not describe them during interrogations in the way how they could have done had the criminal case been opened in good time.

«Many investigating actions were performed with unreasonable delays. For example, the check of the victim’s evidence on the scene was arranged three years after the events took place. Taking into account that at the moment of use of force the boy was 4 years old, the mere essence of this investigating action conducted with such delay raises serious doubts», – the head of the international legal protection department of INGO «The Committee Against Torture» Olga Sadovskaya, who represents the underage victim’s interests in the European Court, said.

Objecting to the Russian Government Memorandum addressed to the ECHR Sadovskaya pointed out the following: «At this stage the investigation has been going on for almost ten years and during all this time all refusals to open a criminal case were quashed as unlawful and unreasonable. However, after quashing the previous refusal the investigating authority issues absolutely identical refusal (including the same grammar mistakes), which obviously indicates at absence of any additional investigating actions conducted by the corresponding authority. Thus, the last refusal to open a criminal case dated 10 November 2014 is an exact copy of three previous refusals to open a criminal case, issued by another investigator in the course of this year. It is obvious that different investigators could not have issued the refusals so identical in their wording had not they been copying the text without much thinking of its contents».

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